Jim's Reviews > Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits

Lowside of the Road by Barney Hoskyns
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Jul 22, 2012

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bookshelves: nonfiction, jims-reviews
Read from July 22 to 31, 2012

I haven't spent much time with biographies, so I wanted to pick an interesting one. And I did. Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits. If you're not familiar with the artist and actor, he's had an interesting life, and even though this wasn't an "authorized" biography, Barney Hoskyns does a decent job in outlining Waits's life. 

While I love Waits's music, I probably would have gotten a lot more out of the book if I had been much more familiar with it. I know several songs, but I'm not enough of a fan to be familiar with all his albums - so the background on each one would have been that much more interesting, I'm sure. 

I enjoyed reading about his early life and the authors that had an impact on him. Based on that, I added several authors to my Goodreads lists - Kerouac, Bukowski, and some of their contemporaries who told the stories of those whose stories otherwise wouldn't be heard. 

It was interesting to hear about different parts of his life, working at the same label as the Eagles (and considering them too "pop"), a fling with Bette Midler, and some of the films I wasn't even familiar with. I'll have to check those out. One bit of inaccuracy I have to take the Hoskyns to task for: the character Waits played in the superhero film Mystery Men did not invent the "Psycho-fraculator" (the machine that Casanova Frankenstein was going to use to enter the city). The devil's in the details...

And one of the issues of this book is the details. It seems like the author collected every detail he could find - and then crammed then in the book. I'm sure many things were left on the cutting room floor, but 500 pages of text (and over 100 more of prologue, cast, appendices, and index) is a lot to cram into a book. 

That being said, I enjoyed the read. If you're a Waits fan, check it out. If not, there's probably not much here for you. 

I'm going to go listen to Jockey Full of Bourbon again. 
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